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Course Title
Starting a Nonprofit


Are you considering starting your own nonprofit organization to tackle a community or social issue?  Have you been asked to help get a new nonprofit off the ground?  Before you leap in, it is critical to understand all the intricacies surrounding this inspiring, rewarding and challenging endeavor.  This carefully details the many aspects of taking a nonprofit start-up from vision to reality and on the road to becoming a 501(c) (3) tax exempt organization.


Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:

  • Understand what is needed in taking the initial steps from vision to start-up
  • Begin defining the project and target audience
  • Create a plan for market research
  • Consider funding options and plan a funding strategy


  1. Brainstorming and Planning
    • Why do you want to start a non-profit?
      • Stating your dream
      • Defining your visions and goals
      • Translating your dream into reality
    • The Disadvantages
      • What reputation?
      • Limited resources
      • Funders/donors expectations
      • Personal commitment
      • You're on your own
    • The Advantages
      • can you call the shots?
      • Resources
      • Flexibility
    • Why, What, Where, Who, When, How???
      • Difference b/t charities and foundations
      • Who will your target audience be
      • Why, What, Where, Who, When, How???
      • Name, Mission, Vision
      • Programs, Services, Products being offered
      • Start-up costs/budgets (administrative and program)
      • How will you organize your group
      • Market Research/Needs Assessment (Identify gaps in services)
      • Create Timeline (starting from planning stages to and through receiving your determination letter from IRS for 501c3 tax exempt status)
  2. Start-up (in reference to preparing to be a 501(c)(3) organization)
    • Forms/Fees/Legal documents
      • Articles of Incorporation:  Secretary of State
      • SS-4:  IRS
      • Charitable Solicitation Form:  Secretary of State
      • State Taxation:  Department of Revenue
    • Choosing your Board of Directors
    • Bylaws
    • Conflict of Interest Policy
    • Form 1023 (have students start reviewing questions on their own time)
    • Financial Tools (briefly discuss importance of spreadsheets, software, budgets, etc)
    • Record Keeping (briefly discuss importance of goals, outcomes, outputs - measurements, forms, storage, confidentiality, databases, etc)
    • Volunteer Opportunities
    • Grants (briefly discuss various types of grants)
    • Sustainability
  3. Maintaining and growing your Nonprofit organization brief overview
  4. Networking, Partnerships, and Collaborations
  5. Helpful Links/Websites...



Method of Instruction



  • Exam:  No
  • Demonstration of Skills:  Yes
  • Class Participation:  Yes